County of San Diego Parks and Recreation sells an annual park pass for $40 to San Diego residents. You have to visit a park once a month for the year to make it worth the money, but it doesn’t take that many visits to make it worth while (we don’t always have three one dollar bills on us to pay the daily rate and are sometimes scrounging in the car for quarters). Being that we frequent Live Oak and Guajome, and now Wilderness Gardens, I am sure we will get our money out of it. Our first stop with our new handy pass is Wilderness Gardens County Preserve (again). We came more prepared this time, with a monocular to view exactly what is lurking in the little caves in the cliff along Alice Fries Trail. It was not full of owls like I was imagining. We found the same beautiful owl as last week, and also noticed that one of the dwellings was full of honeycombs and busy bees. We also hiked Upper Meadow Trail, which offers wonderful views of Pauma Valley, chaparral and oak woodland. We came across a red velvet ant on Upper Meadow Trail. Many people don’t realize (based on its name and appearance) that velvet ants are actually wingless hairy female wasps. Upper Meadow Trail starts not too far away from the parking area, and ends near the pond. When returning back to the parking lot you can walk by the old mill, a 1930’s adobe/ranger station/museum (which hasn’t been open since the pandemic started), and Native American mortars. We hiked on a glorious, sunny Saturday afternoon and had the trails virtually to ourselves. We are loving Wilderness Gardens County Preserve, and our new annual San Diego County Parks parking pass.